Defining Our Employee Promise

In the warm and sunny spring of 2020, the core team of three, consisting of two people from Finland and one from Poland, decided to sit down and work together on our Employee Promise for our candidates and employees. They had a nice chance for this since everyone was locked down in their homes due to pandemic and it was a good time to concentrate on big questions like this…

What’s an Employee Promise, actually?

Reeta:

Employee Promise (also known as Employee Value Proposition) is a set of offerings which an employer provides for its employees in return for the skills, capabilities and experiences they bring to the organization (simplified version based on the definition from Brett Minchington). 

Simply put, it defines what employees and candidates can expect from an organization. Our promise for our employees and candidates can’t be something coming out of the heads of our People Operations team but it needs to be based on research. That’s why we made some deep analysis about how our employees experience working at Nordcloud.

In the end Employee Promise leads our people operations strategy and community building. From a candidate perspective it ensures we describe what Nordcloud truly is instead of just providing a list of nice-sounding buzzwords.

Wlad:

To me it’s very simple. It’s a genuine and honest answer to a question: What kind of working environment can I expect at Nordcloud if I join your team? Just pure truth, no sugar coating but also focusing on where we succeed and what we do well. And I think there’s a couple of things that we can be proud of, as our research has proved us.

Katia:

Following exactly the thoughts from Wlad, for me the employee promise is simply an answer to the famous question ‘why’. So it’s the reason for our current and possible future employees to work for Nordcloud. What’s in it for me? What can I expect to get, and to give in return? 

In addition, I think the Employee Promise should be three things: it should be concrete and sustainable so that it will manifest itself in everyday life and endure time. And as Wlad pointed out, it should also be real and true, so that if not everyone but at least the majority of our people can relate to it, nod in approval and endorse it. On top of that, it should at least to some extent distinguish us from others so that candidates find it attractive and our own people can be proud of being part of the team at Nordcloud.

Alright, now we’re really looking to learn about the Employee Promise at Nordcloud.

Everyone:

We’re excited to introduce it to you! Here we go:

Now let’s have a closer look at what this really means. Here are the four different building blocks or elements in order to drill down a bit deeper into what the employee promise is all about:

Can you elaborate a bit more on that?

Katia:

For me the digital builders and transforming the industry parts are sort of quite self-explanatory in the sense that it’s our purpose: this is why we exist and this is how we do it. We build solutions with the latest tech and help our customers – and as a result the whole world – to utilize cloud and modern technologies for transforming the ways of working. I feel these are strongly linked to two of our core values ‘We win together’ and ‘We make a difference’. Of course it’s also about our vision of empowering people to prosper in an automated world and become the world’s largest enabler of computing. Our mission is to power-up our customers digital success by building on the world’s best technology platforms.

As for the adaptability part it probably would need a bit more concrete examples, since as we also discovered during our investigations, flexibility can mean quite a lot of different things for different people. In our line of business it usually refers to e.g. flexible working hours, remote work, flat organization structure and so on, which are probably more of a standard in IT companies these days.

But for us it can also mean being adaptable in terms of ways of working, role descriptions and responsibilities, career development or decision making. This would include for example using agile methodologies, promoting project rotation, making decisions in autonomous teams and not being too stuck with job titles or territories and organizational silos. In essence, ‘We work smart’.

In our community I think the most visible aspect is the strong culture of learning and sharing knowledge, which is beyond anything I’ve seen before. Since we are working from 10 European countries, it’s not a surprise that the atmosphere we have is international and probably many other companies also have a friendly and easily approachable feel to it, but the fact that self-development and knowledge sharing is so strongly promoted is for me unparalleled.

There are always highly skilled experts around to ask for help and to learn. Not to mention some of the most hilarious facepalming moments I’ve had following our #random channel in Slack 🙂 so all in all, I would say that definitely ‘We grow together’.

How did the process of creating and crystallising Nordcloud’s Employee Promise look like?

Wlad:

Wow, that was a hell of a journey! Like with every big project, the preparation process took some time because we really wanted to make sure that the outcome is supported by data. We analyzed numerous surveys and researched what we have done at the company over the last 2 years involving the topics around people’s satisfaction, candidate brand, company’s brand etc.

And very soon it proved to be the right way as the results really surprised us.

I think what the marketing team created for the B2B goals has also been hugely helpful for us as it gave us a sense of direction (and it was great to see that our messaging has quite a lot in common with each other).

We also asked our tech leaders for opinions once the concept was drafted. The discussion took over 2 hours instead of one so you may imagine how intriguing it was. We received some invaluable feedback that allowed us to polish the message to the shape which we have presented as an outcome.

What did you learn during the process?

Wlad:

Well, I could mention a lot of things but I will mention the three most important to me personally. First of all, I had no experience with Employee Promise evaluation before so I had to climb really high on the learning curve in the beginning. I’ve always been passionate about Employer Branding topics but I never had a chance to be involved in building something from the scratch in this domain.

Second of all, it really made me realize how important it is to use data properly and trust it, rather than your gut feeling. I will say something that might seem a bit controversial: if you’re new to something, don’t trust your intuition – you could as well flip a coin and it would be the same. Trust data and research instead.

For example, we all thought in the beginning that every IT company on the market is very adaptable. But then we conducted a Nordcloud Community Survey which was filled out by 181 people and it turned out that 131 admitted to the statement that we have flexible ways of working! That’s more than 76%! You should’ve seen our faces when we realized it!

Last but not least: we really enjoyed working together and found that we have a lot in common. I know I have colleagues that I can fully trust (it’s worth mentioning that I have never met Katia in person and with Reeta we have only met f2f once). Also, I think Poles and Finns have more in common than anyone would suspect.

Katia:

Well, I could make this really easy and say “what Wlad said” since I fully agree with everything above. I think all of us in the project team have our own strengths or ‘superpowers’ if you like which we could utilize and which supplemented each other really nicely.

Among many other things, Wlad is really great with data research, Reeta has powerful insights coming from the long experience in our company and culture, and I had some experience in working with Employee Promise and Employee Value Proposition from before in my previous career. 

To me it was a perfect showcase of collective intelligence and teamwork resulting in more than the sum of its parts. I really enjoyed our brainstorming and collaboration, and also learned a lot about agile tools and ways of working. Let alone the fact that I think it brought us a lot closer to each other, getting to know each other not just as colleagues but on a personal level. And above all, we had great fun working together!

Reeta:

Do you have an hour to listen? 😀 We learnt so much! First of all, for me the building process was a great example of how a team can be greater than the sum of its parts. By working together we came to the conclusions which would have never been found if everyone was going through the thinking process alone.

It’s amazing when in the right flow, the team is deepening the analysis, completing each other’s sentences and always taking a step forward to a new direction you never expected – but can’t stop admiring once it’s in front of you. I am proud to have such inspiring and passionate colleagues who I can look up to. 

In our way of thinking, community development has to be community-driven and the same applies to this process. Without great insights and involvement from the Nordcloud community it is not possible to put the main elements of Nordcloud together.

Another remark I made was that one should never take something as self-evident. We almost dropped away one key part of our Employee Promise because we thought it’s not differentiating us from other tech companies at all: adaptability and flexibility. We thought it would be one of the hygiene factors, i.e. something which almost every organisation in the domain implements.

After digging deeper into data we noticed that it was us who thought all the other tech companies must be flexible, not our community who has the most experience from different tech companies. We understood it was actually one of our strengths and we were just so used to having flexible ways of working at Nordcloud that we thought it wouldn’t be important or make a difference. But it does.

Actually, now that I think of it, how we followed agile methodologies in this process is a great example of how flexibility is built-in at Nordcloud. Agile methodologies are all about experimenting and continuous improvement, and that describes also the Nordcloud spirit very well.

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